Sarah Keizer: Kickball Competitor, Derby Car Driver and Caring Teacher

“I don’t sit still very long,” she said. “I like to be active and outside. My students are probably surprised to find out I’m a little more competitive than they probably think when I go out and play kick ball or gaga ball with them.”

She loves having former students cheer her on at the autocross race and has even raced against at least one former student. “It’s just a lot of fun. I do one race a year, that’s all. My students are always surprised when I tell them I do that. They don’t see me that way when I’m in the classroom.”

It’s in the classroom where Keizer works not only to educate her students but also to build genuine relationships with each of them. “Making connections with every student is important to me. You have to develop relationships and help students believe in themselves and that they can learn.”

She’s especially inspired when she sees those relationships last beyond fourth grade. She loves getting notes, emails or even graduation open house invitations from former students. “To me it’s amazing that they think of me eight years later as they graduate.”

Keizer is in her 19th year as a fourth-grade teacher at TK. “I knew from the time I was in fourth grade that I wanted to teach. I had a great fourth-grade teacher who really inspired me and now here I am, ironically, teaching fourth grade. I love this grade because the students are independent enough in a lot of ways but still young enough for me to really help shape their learning” she said.

One of her favorite things to do in the classroom is develop creative and engaging activities to enhance the curriculum. If she ever decides to leave the classroom, she said she would like to work in creative curriculum development.

As the senior member of the fourth-grade teachers at Page, Keizer realizes it is important for her to be a role model and inspirational leader to her colleagues. “It’s my job to give back and help other teachers just starting their careers. I worked with some incredible mentors when I started. Now it’s my turn to do the same for someone else.”

Keizer is a graduate of Hastings High School then attended Kellogg Community College and Grand Valley State University. She earned her master’s degree in reading and literacy. She started at TK as a student assistant to current director of curriculum Kim Chausow and then served as a long-term substitute for current second-grade teacher Stephanie Woods. She worked a job-share option with Chausow and then got her own fourth-grade classroom.

In addition to mentoring teachers and having student teachers in her classroom, Keizer has served as the Student Council advisor for the school, worked on the school improvement team, and is the chairperson for the fourth-grade team.

She offers this advice to co-workers and new teachers. “You have to be selfless and giving. Be prepared for anything. Plan, plan and plan, but also be flexible enough to change on a dime. Rely on veteran teachers and administrators to help you find the balance in life and work. Work hard, play hard and remember the reason you teach. Every child deserves a teacher who won’t give up on them.”

Favorite Part of the School Day: “Greeting each of my students when they come in the morning. It gets us started for a good day. I practice Capturing Kids Hearts and make those connections that are so important.”

Favorite Book: “I read fourth-grade books all the time. I like (authors) Gary Poulsen and Eric Carle and just finding out what my students like to read.”

Superpower She Would Most Like to Have: “The ability to replicate myself.”

Favorite Sport to Watch: “Watching my son, Logan, (7th grade), play basketball and my daughter, Clara, (fourth grade) doing gymnastics.

Favorite TV Shows: “I love reality TV - Survivor is one we watch as a family and I love Wheel of Fortune. Being a contestant on Wheel of Fortune might be on my bucket list.”

Vacation Bucket List: “Someplace on a tropical island with a bungalow and a hammock right on the water.”

Why TK is a Special Place: “This district has given me great role models. We have dedicated and hardworking teachers and administrators. It’s so important to be able to have that network of co-workers that help you and make me feel able to do what I do every single day. I’ve worked with some great people who have inspired me and motivated me to be the best teacher I can be every day. And this community and the kids are just amazing. I love teaching here.”